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China Beefing up Checks on Vegetable Safety
Ms Zhou, like many other Chinese residents, is unaware that the vegetables she cooks and eats everyday had passed several checks in production and distribution before she bought them.

"But I know the vegetables are safe and wholesome and if I ask,the market will check for me whether they still bear pesticide residues," said the Shanghai housewife.

In east China's Jiangsu Province and Shanghai Municipality, local governments are supervising the whole process of vegetable planting, processing, distribution and sale, to ensure safety fromfarms to dinner tables.

Zhenjiang city in east China's Jiangsu province, according to Vice-Mayor Zhang Jisheng, has invested every year over 5 million yuan (600,000 US dollars) in the construction and expansion of "safe vegetable" production bases. It attaches great importance to the examination of soil, water and air quality on farms, and restricts the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, promoting organic fertilizers and non-polluting pest-controls.

The city also reinforces checks throughout the production and sale process. With pesticide residue-testing apparatus in farms and markets, the double-checking has stopped contaminated vegetables from entering markets.

Of the 100 million kilograms of vegetables put on market last year, over 90 percent had been undergone tests, Zhang said.

In the city of Nanjing, Jiangsu's capital, the government also enhances after-sale supervision at 185 checking centers in retail and wholesale markets. Every year, the reagent and examiners' feesalone cost the city more than one million yuan (120,000 US dollars).

Shanghai this year plans to earmark 2 million yuan (240,000 US dollars) for quality supervision of farm products. According to the municipal agricultural commission, the city's examination of the overall environment of vegetable gardens is well underway, andsafety control of cultivation has been reinforced. For example, the municipality has required all farms to keep records of their use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers to trace back the causes of possible accidents.

Meanwhile, Shanghai has also accelerated the formation of a network of vegetable checks and examinations, buying more pesticide-testing apparatuses for production bases and markets. With more than 200 already in operation, the apparatuses are expected to cover 80 percent of the vegetable producing area.

According to the Shanghai pesticide-testing center of the Agriculture Ministry, 95 percent of the city's vegetables passed the qualification test from May to July this year, more than 30 percent higher than the same period of 1998.

(People's Daily August 7, 2002)

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